11 February, 2013

demons of the past

I just realized that all day I've been opening pages and immediately pausing the videos but my speakers weren't even plugged in.

When we lived in Austin, I went through...7 jobs? I think. We were there for five years, the last three of which I held one steady job, so you do the math. Of those, only one got the requisite letter of resignation. At most, I just walked out one day and never went back. At one, I took an early lunch because I had an anxiety attack and didn't go back until two weeks later when I had to pick up my check. Not exactly noble, but then again this isn't a story about how reliable I am. (Which, ironically, was my best trait according to the people I worked for the last three years we were there.)

Sometimes I wonder if humans have a threshold for experiences...like the people that die in the midst of having some crazy adventure, if they just hit the maximum number of adventures, and that's why they died.

When I was younger I used to write constantly. I carried a notebook with me everywhere, and just wrote. Thoughts, feelings, perceptions of my surroundings, opinions of people, stories I'd make up about strangers, anything and everything that came to mind. Sometimes I'd write notes to people in them, and then I'd give them the notebook and they'd write back. So much of my life is chronicled, captured in my own words, and I often miss doing that.

I lived in my own little world, with my words to keep me company. When I wasn't writing I was reading, and I was perfectly content to spend the majority of my time alone. The stories I could create were very real to me, and they were better than the reality of where I was.

My disdain for the region I grew up in is thick, overwhelming, and destructive. I realize that I wouldn't be the person I am today without having had the exact past that I did. I know that the experiences I had shaped every fiber of my being. I made friends there, I loved there, and yet when I think of it, the only feeling I can muster is a burning hatred that grows the longer I think about it. I dream of the places I lived, the house I grew up in and the church/school I spent 6 days a week at when I was little, and in my dreams the depths of these places is vast, and I'm searching, exploring, yearning to find the thing that will allow me to make peace with my past.

The building I went to elementary school in, where my mom worked six days a week, and where I spent countless hours being terrified that someone was going to sneak in through the alley door and murder us all is gone now, but the secrets it holds will live forever.

I'm more scared of living than dying. Seems weird, considering that all of my anxieties fixate on murderers but the real fear lies in something horrible happening to the people I love, and me being left alone - abandonment. 

I believe that the same way we can have a soulmate, someone who compliments us in the most perfect way, we can also have that connection with a place - somewhere that you feel in perfect harmony with your surroundings.

While my notebook keeping tactics are clear evidence that I've always been an introvert, they also served as a support system for the onset of my depression, as well as a clever way of hiding it for so many years.

When I was 11, my brother moved away. He'd lived with us for six years, ever since he'd come back from living in Spain. He was a constant in my life, always home on weeknights hogging the TV, buying me music, movies, toys, anything I asked for really, the best brother anyone could have asked for. One day, when I walked in the house crying because my dad has refused to stop the car after I saw an abandoned kitten on the side of the road, he asked why I was upset. When I told him, he immediately took me back to the spot where we rescued the kitten and brought her home. I named her Socks, and even though she was taken less than two years later, I'll never forget the no-questions-asked willingness of my brother to just fix whatever he could in my life.

When he left, I was happy for him. He'd escaped the Valley, for a better job in Austin, and he really seemed to like it there.

Then, a year later, less than a week after finding out that her sister had died, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Because there was no one else to stay with me, and I was not the kind of kid willing to stay home alone, I spent a lot of time at the hospital, and later at the cancer treatment center where my mom took chemo. My dad's way of coping was denial - my mom didn't have cancer, it was just the doctors trying to scam money out of us. Since my mom was the one that was sick, and my brother was gone, I had no real support system. I focused my energy on school, and that helped for a while.

But then, because my mom hadn't been working, my parents couldn't afford to send me back to my private school the next year. My mom asked me to try public school for two weeks, promising that if I hated it, they'd find a way to send me back to Faith. I did hate it, and I had no friends, but I didn't tell anyone. I didn't want to be a financial burden, and I certainly didn't want to stress my mom out.

I think, losing an aunt, even one I never knew, followed by being terrified of losing my mom, and not having anyone to discuss it with probably should have been dealt with, but it wasn't. I didn't bother to tell anyone that something might be wrong, because I didn't really know it was, and my parents were, understandably, focused on getting my mom healthy.

That's when it started, though. Even though no one was really mean to me (except the blind girl who attacked me in the bathroom with her cane), I just didn't fit in. The kids were tougher, calloused, and uncaring. I kept to myself even more than usual, and when I did make a friend, she was just as depressed as I was, and taught me to deal with stress in the most harmful way imaginable. But no one asked questions, and I took that to mean no one cared. If no one cared, then why stop? I started to sink into a hole of depression and self-hatred so deep that I am still working to dig myself out of it.

Sometimes I can't believe I hid it all so well - I was so self-destructive, so angry at the world, and deeply depressed, but in all that time only one person ever confronted me. Ironically it was my mom who convinced him that I was ok, and while part of me was grateful to not have to answer the questions anymore, part of me also wondered why she couldn't see it.

All of that, though, kept bottled for so long, has left me an emotionally damaged, unable to hold down a job, and slightly dysfunctional adult. And I blame the place. I can't blame my parents, they're my parents, they did the best they could given the circumstances, and I love them. I can't blame my brother, he's not responsible for me. I partially blame myself, because if I hadn't had to have surgery in the fifth grade, maybe we would have moved. But then again, maybe it would have been just as bad, or worse.

No matter what the real reason for my current mental state, the truth is that if I don't let go of the hatred I have for that place, I can't move forward. The place itself didn't shape me - the people there did, the experiences I had there did, but physically, the place itself - it's just land. I think it was so easy for so long to just lump all my blame on that, but now I need to start facing the fact that I've been gone for almost ten years and things haven't really gotten a whole lot better. I'm still lost, and I need to take a step back and find the real issue, so that I can free my mind, and be the strong, stable person I know I should be.

"Beyond the East the sunrise, beyond the West the sea
And the East and West, the wander-thirst that will not let me be" - Gerald Gould

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